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From Pawn Shops to Evictions, Spike Pilots Make Sad Things Fun

”World’s Worst Tenants“ follows a professional evictor; ”Pawn Games“ takes ”Repo Games“ behind dusty security doors

Spike TV is making the best of some dreary situations — six new unscripted pilots it announced Wednesday include a pawn-shop offshoot of the new "Repo Games" and a series that follows a professional evictor.

But the male-targeting network is also offering some shows that sound outright inspirational — in a testosterone-filled kind of way. The Ben Silverman-produced "The Sheriff" follows law enforcement expert Tony Schiena and his team as they visit different sheriff's departments and learn new crime-fighting techniques. "Hungry Men at Work," meanwhile, offers a high-stakes take on cooking shows.

Also read: Sallyann Salsano Talks 'Repo Games'

Sharon Levy, Spike's executive vice president of original series, told TheWrap the new slate would be anything but dark. She said the eviction show, "World's Worst Tenants," for example, would offer "a glimpse of the absurd." The show stars professional evictor Todd Howard.

"He found people living with miniature ponies," Levy said. "My favorite was people illegally cultivating bees."

Following the formula of "Repo Games," which debuted last month, "Pawn Games" is a game show set in a pawn shop in which people try to answer trivia questions to win back items they've pawned. (In "Repo Games," contestants try to win back their cars. Hilarity ensues.) Both "Games" are produced by "Jersey Shore" producer SallyAnn Salsano.

The network, which caters to men 18-34 and a growing audience of men 35-49, continues to focus on "real men doing real things with stakes," she said. "Hungry Men at Work," for example, is a macho take on the traditional cooking show.

"We really thought about how Spike could test the waters of food," she said. "Who are the people that feed all the firemen on a fire line in Northern California, making their food taste good? What type of nutrients do they need, to be in that kind of environment?"

Here are the descriptions of the non-scripted pilots, as provided by Spike, which notes that all are working titles:

"The Sheriff"
From battling merciless street gangs to combating violent drug cartels along the border, America’s sheriff’s departments bravely square off against dangerous criminals every day.  There is one man with the credentials and expertise in law enforcement to help sheriff departments take their game to the next level in these trying times.  With 15 years of experience in the intelligence community on three continents, Tony Schiena is among the most acclaimed law enforcement experts in the country. The National Sheriff’s Association has tasked Schiena and his team to upgrade their branches in order to meet the ever-rising threat of crime.  “The Sheriff” will go behind the scenes and hit the streets with Schiena and his team as they put their crime-fighting skills to use.  Each week, they will visit a new department facing a different issue, and cameras will follow Schiena and his team every step of the way from introducing the latest surveillance methods to demonstrating lethal hand-to-hand combat techniques.  “The Sheriff” is produced by Ben Silverman, founder and CEO of multimedia studio Electus (“Mob Wives,” “The Office,” “The Tudors,” “Biggest Loser”) and Craig Armstrong, Tod Mesirow and Rick Ringbakk of Emmy-winning 5×5 Media (“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Amazing Race,” “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution"), a full-service production company in an overall production and distribution agreement within the Electus studio system.

"Pawn Games"
An actual pawn shop will become the set of the most unconventional game show on television in “Pawn Games.”  From the creative mind behind “The Jersey Shore” and “Repo Games,” this innovative new series gives unsuspecting people a chance to win back their prized possessions they have just traded for a quick buck.  In order to reacquire their goods, the contestant will face a series of questions and challenges, similar to the classic “Let’s Make A Deal,” utilizing the items found in the pawn shop.  “Pawn Games” is produced 495 Productions (“Jersey Shore,” “Repo Games,” “More to Love,” “Tool Academy,” “My Big Friggin Wedding”).  SallyAnn Salsano serves as executive producer. 

"Hungry Men at Work"
The men who work the most dangerous jobs on the planet often share three things in common – specialized skill, bravery in the face of danger, and epic appetites.  To satisfy their prodigious food needs, highly-skilled chefs are required who have experience feeding men and meeting their nutritional needs under the worst possible conditions.  These chefs not only feed them, but create incredible high-end cuisine found in the world’s most exclusive restaurants. Hosted by the working-man’s chef, STRETCH, “Hungry Men At Work” tells the story of these extraordinarily-skilled chefs and the immense obstacles they must overcome.  Each episode focuses on chefs working in imposing situations facing physical and emotional challenges from leaving their families for months at a time to braving harsh environments.  From feeding 300 firemen as they battle wilderness wildfires or 1,000 fearless souls on an isolated oil rig in the Arctic, the show will explore the logistics of feeding high quality food in mass quantities.  “Hungry Men at Work” is produced by David Page and Page Productions (“Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”).

"World's Worst Tenants"
Todd Howard is a professional evictor who will bring viewers to the front door of the most despicable, dirty, outrageous, dangerous, and insane tenants he has ever known.  Howard and his eviction team consisting of his wife, Randy, and his business partner, Rick, are hired to keep tabs on over 150 residential, commercial, and retail units.  When Howard and his team knock on the door, they never know what to expect, and what kind of story will play out on the other side.  The show is produced by Barry Poznick and John Stevens of Zoo Productions (“Southern Fried Stings”).

"Auction In My House"
Three deal hunters are looking for their next big score.  But they’re not doing it in pawn shops, storage units, or even at auctions.  This time, these bargain-based treasure hunters with varied collectible backgrounds are being set loose on their prime target: your home.  Each week, these enterprising men go head to head with each other as they raid a home looking for valuables.  They’ll rummage through the garage, the attic and even through private nooks and crannies to find hidden collectables and historical items like antique guns, old cars, and even a medieval suit of armor.  It’s their job to outbid and outplay one another all the while persuading the homeowners to part with their goods for cash.  “Auction in My House” is based on the hit RDF Media format “Secret Dealers” and is produced by Zodiak USA (“Secret Millionaire,” “Hardcore Pawn”).  Executive Producers include Natalka Znak and Claire O’Donohoe for Zodiak.

"The Hustler"
Josh T. Ryan (Showtime’s “Lock ‘N Load”) prides himself on being the best salesman alive who has sold everything from cars to guns.  To him, the art of the deal is what’s most important. The ultimate American capitalist, Ryan puts his master mercantile skills to the test each week in “The Hustler.” His challenge will be to outsell another top salesman in their respective business.  Ryan will take viewers into the unexplored world of items sold that week and give us insight into how these products are marketed, made, and sold for big bucks with each episode culminating in a friendly wager to see who can outsell each other.  “The Hustler” is produced by The Jay and Tony Show and RelativityREAL.  Jay Blumenfield, Tony Marsh and Tom Forman are executive producers.

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